Founded in 1871, Sciences Po was one of the first institutions in France to put pedagogic innovation at the heart of its academic programme.
This approach is apparent in various aspects of the programme, for example:
- The syncretisation of training delivered by our academics and practitioners
- The composition of our student body, an illustration of social and cultural diversity
- The requirement that every student spend one year studying abroad
- The commitment to interdisciplinarity in our teaching methods
- The support received by students as they learn how to use complex analysis tools
- The commitment to student learning outside the classroom
- The emphasis placed on debates and the confrontation of ideas
- The diversity of methods and tools available for examining complex issues, such as mapping, digital tools, artistic expression, scientific demonstrations, or simulations and clinics
Constant change, the immediacy of information access and the ongoing use of high-performance communication tools has created an environment that is both dynamic and instable, and which requires a pedagogy style that can continuously adapt to ever-changing sets of variables. In this context, pedagogical thinking seems to be even more crucial to Sciences Po, whose mission has always been to train tomorrow’s decision-makers by helping them to understand the world around them.
ACTIVE PEDAGOGY, THE DRIVING FORCE BEHIND INNOVATION AT SCIENCES PO
A true pillar of pedagogical thinking at Sciences Po, active pedagogy can be separated into three different streams:
- Interactivity between teachers and students: the professor guides the students in debates, analyses and interpretation so they can organise their understanding and develop their skills. From individuals seeking knowledge, the students become actors in the learning process. They are engaged at the heart of the pedagogic programme, building up their store of knowledge with the help of professors, researchers and professionals, as well as their peers.
- Interactivity between students: Group work and the co-construction of knowledge are encouraged and supervised to support mutual enrichment and stimulate collective intelligence.
- Interactivity between teachers: Sciences Po strongly believes in the exchange of ideas between peers in a way that encourages collective action, stimulates exciting new initiatives in the different programmes, and promotes knowledge sharing on major challenges.
These different types of interactions contribute to the creation of a genuine educational community. The construction and transmission of knowledge doesn’t happen exclusively in the classroom, but also off-campus, where ideas can emerge, take shape, improve and flourish.
To be a recipient of knowledge is no longer sufficient. Today, it is essential to cultivate interaction with teachers and to enlarge the circle of educators by integrating specialists of related disciplines. Because social and technical controversies are constantly proliferating, mastering social science research methodologies and related digital tools is crucial. These methods and tools allow students to construct their knowledge in uncertain situations, permitting clear analysis and action. This is the goal of the excellent training initiative offered by FORCCAST.
WHY HAVE AN ACTIVE PEDAGOGY LAB?
Agility and interdisciplinarity are necessary to consolidate and strengthen existing initiatives and stimulate new ideas.
The Active Pedagogy Lab seeks to support and sustain a genuine educational community. It aims to develop a supportive space for creative ideas about learning by providing an ecosystem that allows educators to innovate, to review their current practices and to learn about promising alternatives and projects that have been tried in other institutions.
First and foremost, following a philosophy of continuous evolution, the Active Pedagogy Lab is a centre for ideas about innovation. Its strategy is founded on the results of in-depth research that integrates sociological, cognitive and technological evolution. It includes observation and analysis work that allows Sciences Po to stay at the cutting-edge of current thinking on effective teaching methods. Finally, the Lab strengthens our links with Sciences Po’s external partners who are also committed to this path of educational exploration.
The Active Pedagogy Lab is also a conduit for the transmission of knowledge. At the heart of its philosophy is a support system for the academic staff, run by the Lab’s specialized teams. By multiplying the opportunities for sharing experiences between peers, the teams offer both personalized and collective support for pedagogical thinking.
Finally, the Active Pedagogy Lab is a space for experimentation and incubation. The Lab’s teams facilitate exchanges between disciplines, uniting their expertise around targeted, innovative projects. The teams also manage and coordinate the incubation, development, structuring and diffusion of new pedagogical initiatives throughout our academic programmes.
The Lab works on an ongoing basis with the various services and offices of Sciences Po, notably the teams of the Center for Digital Education and the Library who offer, each according to their specific area of expertise, valuable support for professors and their desire to enrich class content, thus contributing to pedagogical transformation.
Sciences Po organises and participates in international meetings on the theme of pedagogy. For example, the Active Pedagogy Lab was invited to give a key note conference at the Education Summit in Columbia “Lideres por la Educacion” about the importance of innovation in social sciences.
Additionally, Sciences Po welcomed a delegation from several national and international institutes of higher education with the aim of exchanging experiences and practices. Sciences Po, along with the universities of Harvard, Pennsylvania, Berkeley, Georgetown, Tokyo and MIT worked together to develop new ideas on the theme of teacher support and to share their experiences with innovative pedagogic methods with a link to digital tools.